Despite the fact that oxygen is quite common in space, its shape does not correspond to molecular oxygen or O 2, which a person can breathe. But researchers at the California Institute of Technology reported the creation of a reactor capable of converting CO 2 into molecular oxygen. With the help of the reactor, it will be possible to generate oxygen for participants in space missions and fight climate change.
Now oxygen on the ISS is obtained by electrolysis of water, which, as a result of the reaction, is split into hydrogen and oxygen and then, under pressure, is "stored" in special tanks.
The principle of operation of the new reactor looks quite simple: carbon - C is removed from CO 2. Scientists have found that if a CO 2 molecule is placed on an inert surface, for example, on a gold foil, then it decomposes into molecular oxygen and atomic carbon.
Molecules CO 2 are first ionized, then accelerated by an electric field, and then crash into the gold surface. So far, the productivity of the installation is more than modest - 1-2 oxygen molecules per 100 CO molecules 2. However, the success is evident as the concept has proven to be workable, which gives hope to make it more effective in the future.
It is assumed that oxygen generation facilities for the crews of future lunar and Martian missions will be created on the basis of the reactor. And on Earth, with their help, they will begin to remove excess CO 2 from the earth's atmosphere and process it into the necessary oxygen, which will help in the fight against climate change.